Magomed Magomedkerimov is rounding into championship shape.
The winner of last season’s welterweight tournament, Magomedkerimov (25-5) used his dominant grappling to secure a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26) win over Chris Curtis (21-6) in the main event of PFL 4 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Thursday.
Already qualified for the PFL postseason, Magomedkerimov earned himself an additional three points, giving him nine on the season and the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.
From the outset, it was clear that Curtis a.ka. “The Action Man” was hoping that Magomedkerimov would stand and trade with him, but Magomedkerimov picked his spots wisely on the feet and reacted to Curtis’s bursts of offense by tying him up and setting up takedowns.
Round two saw Magomedkerimov take Curtis to the mat in the opening minute and he dominated the frame from back control, completely neutralizing Curtis. In the third, Curtis looked to steal the fight, connecting with a right hook and later threatening with a guillotine. But on every occasion, Magomedkerimov’s elite wrestling and scrambling ability got him out of trouble and it was Curtis who ended the fight with Magomedkerimov on his back once again.
Curtis also previously qualified for the playoffs with a third-round TKO of Andre Fialho at PFL 1, and as the No. 7 seed, he will immediately rematch Magomedkerimov in the upcoming quarter-finals on Oct. 11.
The co-main event saw Kayla Harrison (5-0) pick up a lopsided win over Morgan Frier (4-3). Harrison, a two-time Olympic judo gold medalist, immediately took Frier to the mat, putting the underdog in survival mode. Despite Frier’s best efforts, Harrison advanced into crucifix position where she punched away at Frier to weaken her defenses.
When Frier left her arm exposed, Harrison attacked with a key lock to finish the fight.
That first-round finish added six points to Harrison’s season total, bringing it to nine and moving her into the No. 2 seed heading into the PFL playoffs where she will next face Genah Fabian.
A hard-fought welterweight battle between Joao Zeferino (24-9) and Bojan Velickovic (16-10-2) ended with Zeferino having his hand raised by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28), but the outcome would prove fruitless for both men as the three points Zeferino earned were not enough to push him into the PFL playoffs and Velickovic fell to 0-2 in the 2019 season.
Zeferino used solid counters to set up his takedowns of a game Velickovic, who had his own own successful moments in the grappling department. However, it was Zeferino who consistently got the stronger positions, taking Velickovic’s back in rounds two and three and working for a choke in the closing seconds of the fight.
Because Zeferino was a substitute for an injured Gamzat Khiramagomedov, he would not receive the benefit of any tiebreakers. The final welterweight playoff spot instead went to Andre Fialho, who received three points in a walkover after scheduled opponent Zane Kamaka failed to make weight. It was the second time this season Kamaka missed weight and Fialho was not given the option to fight him as Kamaka was disqualified.
In the main card opener, John Howard (28-15-1) took advantage of an aggressive Ray Cooper III (18-7), winning a slugfest to earn a first-round knockout and six points to move into the PFL playoffs.
As usual, Cooper pressed forward from the opening bell, tripping Howard off of a kick and pushing him against the cage when Howard stood up. The two exchanged upon separating and Howard dropped Cooper with a hard left. A dazed Cooper recovered, only to take another left hand that put him down. Howard followed with punches on the ground for the stoppage at 3:23.
Earning playoff spots on the preliminary portion of the card were Fabian, who punched her ticket with a first-round TKO of Moriel Charneski, Larissa Pacheco, who finished Bobbi Jo Dalziel with an armbar in the opening round, and David Michaud, who rebounded from a fast loss in the 2019 season premiere by picking up a fast TKO of his own against Handesson Ferreira.
Glaico Franca took the No. 1 seed with a third-round TKO stoppage of Sadibou Sy. Since Sy recorded a first-round finish in his previous outing, he will still move on to the postseason.
Sarah Kaufman clinched a playoff spot a day before the event after scheduled opponent Roberta Samad failed to make weight for their contest. The former Strikeforce and Invicta FC bantamweight champion was awarded three points for a walkover, giving her nine total on the season after she picked up a first-round submission of Frier in May.
She enters the playoffs as the No. 1 lightweight seed and will face Larissa Pacheco in the semifinals.
Complete PFL 4 results can be found here.
The playoff seedings for the lightweight and welterweight season can be seen below.
- *Sarah Kaufman — 9 points
- *Kayla Harrison — 9 points
- *Genah Fabian — 6 points
- *Larissa Pacheco — 6 points
- e- Bobbi Jo Dalziel — 3 points
- e- Roberta Samad — 3 points
- e- Morgan Frier — 0 points
- e- Moriel Charneksi — 0 points
- *Glaico Franca — 10 points
- *Magomed Magomedkerimov — 9 points
- *Sadibou Sy — 6 points
- *John Howard — 6 points
- *David Michaud — 6 points
- *Ray Cooper III — 5 points
- *Chris Curtis — 4 points
- *Andre Fialho — 3 points
- e- Handesson Ferreira — 3 points
- e- Joao Zeferino — 3 points
- e- Bojan Velickovic — 0 points
- **Gamzat Khiramagomedov — 0 points
- ***- Zane Kamaka — 0 points
* clinched playoff birth
e- eliminated from playoff contention
**Gamzat Khiramagomedov was forced out of league competition due to injury
***Zane Kamaka was disqualified from league competition after missing weight for a second time